CAN- NUALS Webinar | “About time we sensitized Constitutional bodies of their Constitutional duties”: Chief Justice Karol

National University of Advanced Legal Studies (NUALS), Kochi, in collaboration with CAN Foundation organized an enlightening Online Session by Justice Mr. Sanjay Karol, Chief Justice, Patna High Court along with Mr. Justice Anand Pathak, Judge, High Court of Madhya Pradesh and Mr. Vikas Singh, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India on 18th September i.e. Friday. The Panelists deliberated upon the topic of “Social Engineering & Distributive Justice: High Courts Under Our Constitution”.

The Session was moderated by Mr. Prasanth VG, Partner Jyoti Sagar Associates, Bangalore; EC Member, CAN Foundation & Mr. Siddharth Sharma, Advocate, MP High Court practicing at the Principal Seat, Jabalpur. While the Welcome Address was delivered by Prof. (Dr.) K. C. Sunny,Vice Chancellor, NUALS, Kochi.

Justice Sanjay Karol began his Keynote Address by pointing out the significant role which is played by the Constitution of India and how the document stands as a testimony to the emergence of a strong and unified nation,after two centuries of colonial suppression. He adds “our Constitution sets out a bold new social vision; Recent legal writers have persuasively demonstrated that the ordinary citizens of India were clearly conscious of the Constitutional text and were vigorously engaged with its language and framework of values of a judicial court. The Constitution is a living reality experienced by the people in their vocabulary and behaviour towards institutions and to other citizens is a counterpoint to this, and the critical commentaries also to draw attention to the collaborative, ideologically diverse yet ultimately unelected an elite makeup of constituent assembly.” Justice Karol further stated that the role of the judiciary is not to step in shoes of executive or legislatures. Justice Karol was of the opinion that, “Much emphasis is placed on Constitutional rights, though time has now come to ensure that each one of us are made aware and sensitized about our Constitutional duties.

Justice Karol then goes on to appreciate a literary piece by Saadat Hasan Manto- “Naya Kanoon” which in his views happens to have beautifully managed to encapsulate the gulf between the rights mentioned in the Constitution and experience in those rights by the common man on the street. He further adds that despite the best intentions of the legislators,the people may find the law to be completely alien,foreign and even oppressive to the people and questions how “have all the principles the makers of the Constitution based the document upon,been envisioned,have all the deprived and marginalized people been uplifted?” He then adds, “The drafters of the Constitution were aware of the need of political democracy in India but also acknowledged the need of certain social and economic directives pertaining to citizens health, education, and livelihoods all of these are basic goods essential for the proper flourishing of individual capability and development.

Stressing on the importance of socio-economic rights, Justice Karol places positive obligation on the state as a set of proactive visions that a State must undertake for the welfare of the people. As he rightly puts, “Directive principles of the state policy in the part IV of the Constitution are the primary articulations of this socio-economic entitlements of the Constitution. This includes not just measures to ensure collective economic welfare but also causes related to administration, foreign policy and social welfare. Some critics may call it inconsistent but the list of these principles reflect the diversity of perspective and ideologies present in the Constitutional assembly.

According to Justice Karol, DPSPs are the primary articulation of social and economic entitlements in our Constitutions. The list of these principles reflects the diversity of ideologies present in the constituent assembly. Later on, he goes onto highlighting the difference between Part III and Part IV of the Constitution. In his opinion, The Executive and Legislature are the best place to calibrate the implementation for social welfare activity.

While shedding light on the concepts of Social Engineering and Distributive justice, Justice Karol drives the attention of the audience to the jurisprudential development in relation to the sociological school of jurisprudence. He says, “Law is social engineering which means balance between the competing interest of society.”

Justice Karol concludes by underlining the role played by Justice and how it happens to be the first promise made to ourselves through our preamble and therefore justice is a non-negotiable principle in Courts. As he ends his speech, he adds “Doctrine of separation of powers is regarding power separation not the separation of Constitutional goals. Hence Preamble, FR, directive principles and FD are to be seen in that perspective being repositories of Constitutional goals and its spirit.

In response to a question asking for his views on High Courts being the last resorts for most of the people due to scant resources and PIL jurisdiction becoming a proactive means of justice where it was referred as a matter of fact that he was the Chief Justice of a state where literacy rate, law and order, etc. are not up-to-the-mark; here he remarked, that Rights of marginalized and downtrodden have to be protected. 1/10th of India lives in Bihar. More than half of the population comes from marginalized communities, literary rate being 61 pc and the state has the highest rate of emigration. He went on to quote statistics that he had come across in a suo motu case, where it was found that 1 crore 19 lakh children were deprived of their fundamental right to education –a big challenge before the executive. We need to work for the betterment of suppressed and oppressed voices.

Another question touched upon the aspect of the administration of justice through tribunals and authority of the High Courts, to which he remarked that there is a difference of ambit and the scope should be kept in mind regarding tribunals and High Courts. Cases of excesses of the executive must be heard by High Court but respect of statutory mandate needs to be given to tribunals. Speedy justice should also be taken care of.

The full session can be viewed at the following link: HERE

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